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Dear Mr. Srajan,

Just a word. I just read your article on critics who do not even listen to products and have an opinion on them (about the Zu). Can you imagine that in Paris, the people in the most prestigious hifi shop have never listened to Avantgarde speakers. And so on...

Thanks for your passion and your sincerety.
Alain Godrèche
Paris
France
Hi Srajan,

I enjoyed reading your perspective on the grey market for audio products coming from China. As you are well aware, there has been passionate debate on the issue of audio gear pricing. There are many -- particularly those young -- emerging audio buyers who see gear as just another commodity:"toothpaste, frozen dinners, audio gear - it all simply serves its purposes in my life". For that group, if Wal-Mart sold some "audiophile" product on its shelves, they would never buy anywhere else. For this group, their touchstone is: "Why would I spend more $ for the product down the street when I can order pretty much the same item from NYSound for less?"

Others of us know the bigger picture: the small market for audio relative to other products; the time, care, risk and passion invested by a tiny group of manufacturers to bring their poduct to market. But if we don't have an answer for the first group, then the industry will be seen as unable to come to grips with its identity and positioning as this new century unfolds.

John Paikowsky

Srajan:

I just read your latest review on the new 2.2 and noticed that you liked it better than the Droplet (in some respects). I hope you're not going to rescind the award for the Droplet! :-)

Anyway, I think it depends on what type of music you listen to. I like mostly small piano jazz ensembles and trios, so for me, the rendering of the piano and cymbals is the key element, along with good bass control. My Apogees render the midrange and top end in a spectacular manner, so I tend to focus a lot on that. The Droplet does this so well that for me, it's still the bomb. The tonal body you refer to is what it's all about for this type of music.

I was listening to the old Pat Metheny album called "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls" last night. I hadn't played it since getting the Droplet. Needless to say, there was so much information in the background that I was not even aware existed that I was astonished. Really! I'm not sure if that would sound better on the 2.2 Linear, but it sounds pretty awesome to me.

Oh well, next month there will probably be another great player (Canary Audio, maybe?). The important thing that I appreciate in your reviews is that you qualify your statements by explaining the context in which they are made. That is, what type of stuff you listen to and what you listen for. Since we all listen to such different music and for different things, I suspect that no player will ever make everyone happy all the time.

So, I am still loving my Droplet, and hope you keep yours.

Thanks again for the thoughtful reviews.
Tom Sumida
Hi Srajan,

Well, based on your review, I went ahead and purchased a FirstWatt F1 to go with my AKG-K1000 headphones. I shorted the extension wire on the K1000 to 10 inches. All I can say is WOW!! I am blown away. I did an A/B comparison with my Stax Omega IIs driven by a KGSS Amplifier - there is no comparison! I will now put my Omega IIs and KGSS up for sale. I have found heaphone Nirvana.

Vinnie Rossi is going to put 10 feet of Stephan Audio Arts Equinox wire on my AKG K1000s as soon as James Serdechny sends it to me. Srajan, I have you to thank for this. I really appreciate your excellent reviews. You really picked a winning combination with the FirstWatt F1 and the AKG K1000 headphones!

Many, many thanks!
Tom Lopez
I know you have upgraded to the Definitions and have added a few new amps and preamps to your stable, but some of us mere mortals are still wrestling with a single system. My current system consists of Zu Druids, Modwright SWL 9.0 SE and I just received my Patek SE. That little amp is a freakin' work of art. Small yes, but like the watch, it is a gem. WOW!

Now to the sound. My last amp was the Aleph J and prior to that was the First Watt F2 and a Butler 2250 before that. All pieces I learned about from 6moons. Anyway, I thought the Aleph J was superb, but the Patek is in a different league. Stunning, dynamic, powerful and yet smooth as silk. Massed strings have no etch whatsoever, bass is deep and powerful and tuneful. The imaging and layering of the soundstage is unlike anything I have ever heard. I have had a pretty good sense of images across the stage, but never the layers of depth that I am getting now.

I just wanted to thank you for going down this path and writing about it. This combo is going to get me off the treadmill, that's for sure. Ear-to-ear grins abound!

Steve Jeffcoat
Hi Srajan!

I was out of touch for a week and must let you know that I already sold the Opera Ref 2.2 Linear (but there is a new one coming to me soon). I also have the CD120Linear. This unit is so damn good for the price. When I looked inside, there is 20,000 uf /50v of filtering in the power supplies and they even shunt the bloody thing on top of that. It also reads every CD you put into it. Okay, it's not the Droplet CD-5 but it kicks the shit out of a Classe CDP.3 or Rotel 991. By the way, we put the Droplet CD-5 against a BAT-VK-D5SE. My God, the prices should be reversed, $6,500 for the Droplet and - well, $2,000 for the BAT which only reads about 7 out of 10 CDs. These people get away with murder.

My Zu Cable speakers are at the Trinidad airport, I might get them by Wednesday. I will keep you posted.

Regards,
Jeff
Hello Srajan,

how are things going? I am happy I can get back to some of your articles and use them as true reference points for information. I had an Audio Valve pre which was very good, a little warmer than the ModWright, which is more open and detailed than many a 5K pre. My big question is when you used this with the Droplet CD player, was it better in your opinion with the ModWright engaged or without it for long-term use?

If you had to make a call as far as money was concerned, would it be worth the extra expense in musicality? I do appreciate your help in this matter. This is for a customer where I felt it sounded a bit more refined with it in. If there is something I am missing, please tell me.

P.S.: In this month's HIFI World magazine here in the U.K, the Druid got an excellent review only to be butchered by the so-called tech guy who performed the measurements. He claimed that the Druids were only 90dB efficient, that the bottom fell out at around 100dB and that the bass was lightweight and did not look clean on his sine wave measurement. This guy Noel Keyword is a piece of work. He also butchered the Eastern Electric 520 saying you can't use a 4-ohm load with them and he never used the 16ohm tap as the designer advised him. And, as the fool he must be, he also stated for the Druid that he did not use the advice of the setup guide and never conferred with the designer. On listening to the two writers, it was like reading two different reviews on two different speakers. Even the reviewer told him so and on several other occasions before. I told him and his editor to go to 6moons and have a look at your review . Keep up your excellent work and spur on our hobby.

Case in point? You reviewed the Druid loudspeakers and now everyone is finally hearing for themselves just how good they are - one of the best buys in the industry.Thank you Srajan. I now own and sell these fine loudspeakers. The review by Channa was excellent. How Noel could screw up so badly is beyond me. The 90dB finding is ludicrous. To say the bass is lightweight and that even a small mini monitor does better below 100Hz when he's never even listened to the Druid is criminal. Even the reviewer could not believe this as you would see in his perfect 5 score review. So please listen with your ears and remember from this, if you don't ask questions about something you are not familiar with, blunders are the final outcome. A monumental statement was once made and in this case applies big time: Those who fail to learn by their mistakes are doomed to repeat them.

Best regards,
Paul Letteri
G'day Jeff,

I gotta rave at someone this morning, and I suspect you'll understand best :-)

I took delivery of a used Vibe/Pulse last night. It warmed up for an hour and then proceeded to knock my little cotton socks off. Here's the interesting part. It's driving my super-trick Audion Silver Night MkII PX25 integrated which has a stepped attenuator made of Vishay Dales. I compared running the DAC straight into the amp vs. running it through the Vibe. There was simply no comparison, the Vibe path was better in every regard: transparency, resolution, imaging, dynamics and extension, and the image palpability - wow! But especially, most especially amazing was the musicality. I've never heard this kind of musical intensity from my system. This is just flat-out incredible. I'm now convinced that ordering a Linear A, even unheard, was the right move. To echo Stephaen Harrell, "This is seriously good shit."

I had one of Bob Crump's Blowtorches on order for a year and a half, till it became apparent he couldn't deliver and I cancelled. Now, after listening to the Vibe, I understand the kinds of things Blowtorch owners rave about. While I'm sorry I don't have a piece of Bob's statement design, I suspect that the Vibe/Pulse is equally as good, for less than half the price.

Thanks for getting my attention with the Linear A review. While I'd heard of Tom's designs before, the buzz hadn't really registered till reading that.

Cheers,
Paul Chefurka
Srajan

I've come to the conclusion that you're a troublemaker and I'll have to stop reading your reviews. The Definitions have been ensconced in my lounge for about 3 weeks now and I'm loving it. Not even fully broken in yet I'm sure, but everything is there that was reported. Running them through a Modwright SWL 9.0 which is also superb and a Butler 2250 amp. Nice amp, I really like it.

Then, just for fun, I thought I would try one of the Audiosector Pateks as I've never had or heard a chip-based amp. Well, long story short, I'm stunned. Mated with the Definitions and the Modwright, it is just incredible, the dynamics, the level of detail, the sheer musicality of the combination! I now understand what you mean when you talk about image density.

Don't get me wrong, the Butler is a very nice amp, good performance, possibly (due to sheer grunt @250 wpc?) a little fuller in the bottom end. And I suspect there would be people that would prefer it over the Patek as it has a bit more rounded sound, a little more polite, warm & cozy perhaps. Possibly mated with a passive or a SS line stage, it might be a bit more lively. Will have to try it.

But the Patek gets a lot closer to that 'you are there' feeling. So, back to my original point, I now have a very nice Butler amp, reasonably new and reasonably pricey, by New Zealand standards anyway, which I have to either justify keeping as a 'spare' or trying to sell without losing my pants. And I have to say, there's no one to blame except you, mate. If I keep collecting all this gear I might have to come on board as your New Zealand reviewer -:)

Regards
Michael Hilliard

Hi Jeff,

I always enjoy your well thought-out reviews. I have a very intense interest in tube amplifiers, especially low watt SET designs. You are one of the few reviewers who understands the potential for these designs to bring out the magic of the music with highly efficient speakers -- a pairing that could be said to be enjoying a renaissance -- and your contribution is playing a significant part in this wonderful unfolding direction in audio.

I am currently using a pair of Visaton B200 drivers in an open baffle configuration. They are said to be 96 or 97dB sensitive. My question is this - have you had a chance to hear the new Yamamoto Sound Craft A-08S with 2A3 tubes instead of the 45s it is optimized for?

I am asking this because in case the 45s do not have enough power to driver my speakers, I should be able to drive them to my modest listening levels with the 2A3s. I have already successfully driven my speakers with the Wright Sound 2A3s.

Brian Bowdle mentioned to me that the A-08S can take 2A3s without the need for a change of the rectifier tube. However, he seems to not have first-hand experience with the 2A3s. I wonder if you have had a chance to hear them in the A-08S or do you know anyone who has...and what it sounds like especially in comparison with traditional 2A3 amplifier designs?

Keep up the great work. I read your reviews with keen interest - for the prose, your highly considered experiences and your advice.

Warmest Regards
Richard Waxberg
Hello Srajan,

I would like to thank you for your valuable 6moons reviews and personal input regarding the Gallo Ref3 speakers, Gallo SA, Bel Canto eVo 2i GenII, Analysis Plus IC,and Grand Prix Monaco stand. I have incorporated them all into my 2-channel system and am extremely pleased with the sound.

Best regards,
Moshe Jakubowski
Hello Srajan:

An ex-wife once referred to my big system (Apogee Divas and Krell Reference 100 amps) sarcastically as the "Temple of Sound." That's one reason I have a happy new wife who respectively refers to it as the Shamanic Sound Center of the home. A friend of mine used to have a sign at his sound alter that said "Drink my beer, but dont mess with my Stereo", and we did and we didnt!

Congratulations on an excellent essay on the Sacred Quest that underlies many audiophiles seeking of the True Sound, a quest that varies in purpose from person to person and budget to budget,but has as its archtypical underpinning the Shamanic Search for a Doorway to Unity and Power through the Magic of Sound! As a Sound Shaman and a Technoshaman, I am always seeking the marriage of the Tradional, the Ancient Ways, and the High Tech frontier which opens up into the Singularity, the point where biology, technology and Quest merge through the doorway of Meaning into the Ultimate Experience.

What that is depends on you, the universe cooperating and how much pleasure you can tolerate. Low-cost sound shamanic experiences include the traditional listening to brooks and rivers, the wind and the crickets. High-cost variations include B&W 802 monitors and SuperAudio players. Ancient preparations include fasting and journeying to remote mountain passes. Modern methods include staying at home in your living room with class A electronics and homemade brew. It all works if you are open and pay attention.

And of course, ultimately as audiophiles our goal is to listen to the music, not the equipment. Beyond that, our goal may include to let the music transform ourselves, and our guests, so that when the music ends, we continue to be transformed in a richer life of more sensitivity, magic, personal power and we become part of the music. After all, music is part of the vibration of the spheres and we are literally tuning ourselves to higher harmonies when we surrender the purity of the Sound.

Thank you again, Srajan, for your inspiring essay. Keep our fetishes growing!

Dr. blue
An music industry friend of mine passed along a letter on your website from Coco Mbassi. I wanted to pass along that I am very sorry to read of this but not surprised. I worked for Sandrine at Tinder Records, working hard to promote great bands like Paris Combo, Amadou et Mariam and Henri Dikongue. Unfortunately the label is very corrupt and instead of helping promote the great artists and their music, they do them a great disservice.

They should be avoided. Although I may not be able to do much, any artists are welcome to contact me and I will do what I can based on my experience from here in the US.

Kurt Hoffmann
Marketing Director/CEO
Abra Marketing | Graphic Design + Web Development
http://www.abramarketing.com
Hi Jeff,

looking forward to your next installment on the 301. Looking at my old Sound Practices, I noticed an article by Haden Boardman on the 301 and 401. It is in Issue 11 which came out in September 1996. There is also a blurb from Herb Reichert about the Thorens 124. I dont know if the old issues are available anymore. I would be happy to xerox and sent it to you if you want it. I bought a 301 on eBay which was in driving distance of my house for a good price. Loricraft answered four emails within 24hrs at the longest and I was going to buy from them but at half price and no shipping, I went for the eBay one. I am buying some 2-inch air-dried maple from Mapleshade to build a plinth similar to Terry Cain's. Mapleshade also has 3-inch solid brass footer to use betweem sections of the plinth. Regards,

Steve Ewalt

Hi Jeff

I just read your review of the little pentode that could. Nicely done, I trust your ears, as a musician. A year and a half later, how do you feel about the Almarro 205? Have you tried any nice NOS 84s like Bugle Boy etc? New model? Do you think this would be a good fit for my 168 Sigma Pipes and also the set of Jumbo Snell-sized HempTones LouisOmega is sending me in the nearish future? I have heard that this amp is a bit too dark sounding and best with bright speakers like the AvantGardes...any thoughts?

Thanks for you insights
Dan Mason

Hi Dan,

A year and a half later I still listen to my 205 almost daily and wouldn’t want to part with it. I haven’t tried any NOS tubes yet, but I did try some EI 84s which I didn’t care for all that much. They did brighten up the sound quite a lot, but overall I liked the Sovteks better. I’m not familiar with the Pipes or Louis’ new speaks, but the 205 works great with the Omega Super 3s.

I have the new Mk 2 version of the 205 in now for review, but it’ll be a while before I write it up. The new one has 2 pairs of inputs, a headphone jack and can be set for 8 or 16 ohms. I haven’t listened to them back to back, but it seems like the new amp is more neutral than the original and seems to work fine with the Super 3s without being too bright.

Hope that helps.

Kind regards,
Jeff
Jeff,

I'll take you up on your offer to send a copy of the Garrard 301 user manual. It's supposedly available via download on the Net but the server where it comes from seems to be perpetually down.

Attached is a photo of my own Garrard 301. The arm is a Rabco SL-8E, another old classic piece, about half the age of the Garrard 301. The cartridge is a Decca Mk VI Gold. I very much enjoyed reading the 6moons pages about your discovery, restoration and enjoyment of your Garrard 301. It was articles like yours which prompted me to revive my 301, which I have had for 30 years but which was stored for half that time. It's my main turntable again, on the newly constructed plinth shown in the photo, having displaced a much newer and very expensive turntable.

Thanks for sending a copy of the manual.

Gene Poon
Dear Srajan,

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to you for taking the time to get to know the SilverFi Cables. I'm deeply honored to be a part of this review not only because of your thorough exploration of the cables, but because of your support of DIY audio in the global sense, without any type of discrimination.. Your creative and unlimited insight into music, audio and journalism at their best should be an example to some print magazines, which erect unbroachable barriers against DIYers and small companies to carry on the status quo instead. Your reviews are always thought-provoking and this one is no exception. I am always amazed by your vast and creative vocabulary and aural descriptions. Thank you again. You have opened a new and exciting window for me. The last ten years of my life which aimed to design a better cable for music gained a new and precious meaning.

Best Regards.
Sezai Saktanber
Srajan,

I am appending an article that may interest you in a superficial way and I do not mean in any way to be patronising in sending it to you - you may well know more about Sufi music than the writer or, indeed, I do.

Of the pieces of equipment that you sometimes mention and then announce that all moonies are too busy to review, the one I regret most for not being reviewed is the LessLoss DAC that I only learnt of from 6moons but went on to read a good deal about and have begun to think that it is a really serious piece of gear that perhaps only lacks a valve output stage to be greater still.

Warm regards,

Zaheer Ahmad

The whirling wind of God
Dervishes and Sufi singers have long been revered in the West, even as their practices have come under threat across the Islamic world. Peter Culshaw reports on a series of revelatory encounters with different mystics [Sunday October 16, 2005 - Observer].

It had taken me a week to track down the underground dervish scene in Istanbul - the only dervish contact I had in the city was a carpet-seller called Abdullah deep in the bazaar. As with all quests, the difficulty only added to the sense of occasion when I did manage to locate them. Finally I found myself at a zikr (a remembrance) among 80 or so dervishes in a hidden tekke (religious house), and they began to chant, rhythmically, the name of Allah. It was one of the most powerful sounds I have ever heard. In addition to a weaving violin and a zither that sends chills down your spine, there is a solo voice -- similar to the muezzin's call from the minarets -- that is full of heartbreaking longing. This is serious blues music, I thought. I was sitting in the middle of the group and, although I had permission to take photographs, I couldn't actually stand - pinned back by the weight of numbers but also by what seemed a spiritual force field.

When the tension was close to unbearable, 12 dervishes filed into the adjoining room and, in unison, took off their black cloaks -- as if it were a holy fashion show -- revealing white robes. Then they started spinning with incredible grace. This angelic whirling is a perfect counterpoint to the earthly chanting. Photographs can't prepare you for the disorienting feeling that the dervishes are defying gravity. It takes months of training for them to defy dizziness.

The dervishes are all Sufis, seekers on the mystical path to God, and are members of different Brotherhoods, chief among them Mevlevis, the school founded by the mystic poet Rumi 700 years ago. If the impression often given in the media is of Muslims as puritan fanatics, followers of this branch (and the words dervish and Sufi are interchangeable) have been responsible for much of the rich Islamic heritage of music, poetry and arts from Persia to Andalucia.

Nearly all the great musicians were Sufi disciples. From the 9th century, Sufi ascetics wandered the Islamic world, attracting followers to their gentle form of mystical Islam (the word Sufi is often thought to have come from suuf - wool - from the woollen garments the holy men wore). The shrines of the Sufi masters have become important places of pilgrimage. Their path is an attempt to transcend the ego and achieve unity with the divine, with the help of a sheikh (also called pir) and of prayer, meditation and, in the case of the whirling dervishes, dancing. Many European writers have been fascinated by Sufism - Richard Burton, the translator of the Kama Sutra, was initiated as a dervish, and Doris Lessing and Ted Hughes shared his interest ('the Sufis are the most sensible collection of people on the planet', Hughes once said).

Like much of Sufism, the performance of the whirling dervishes works on many levels and is charged with symbolism. The funereal black cloak represents a tomb. In casting this off the dervishes discard all worldly ties. They spin with the right arm extended to heaven and the left to the floor - grace is received from Allah and distributed to humanity. The dervishes are meditation in movement, prayer as dance.

Abdullah introduced me to the pir, and I asked him about the zikr. 'The purpose of life is to remember Allah,' he said. 'Every electron and proton is whirling round a nucleus, as the planets whirl round the sun - and all of them are chanting for Allah. Even your heartbeat' - he thumped his chest - 'is chanting All-lah, All-lah.' Then he reached deep into his robes, beamed a huge smile and offered me a sweet.

I became interested in Sufi music at one of the first Womad festivals in the early Eighties. People talk about an artist being a revelation, and that was exactly how it felt when Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan started singing his rhythmic qawwali music. He and his group -- singers, harmonium and tabla players -- were supposed to play an hour but went on for much longer. We were all supposed to go and catch the headliner -- New Order or perhaps the Fall -- but no one, as far as I could tell, moved from the tent, the audience transfixed by Nusrat's passion.

Nusrat's family (originally from Afghanistan, a traditional centre of Sufism) have an unbroken tradition of singing qawwali for 600 years, yet you felt, somehow, as if you were plugging into something utterly modern. Nusrat became known world-wide and by the time of his death, aged 49, in 1997, following a record 125 albums, there were plans for a duet with Pavorotti.

Nusrat was devoted to spreading his music and its message of peace. His tour manager, Adam Nayyar, told me that once in Japan, Nusrat spent the entire evening watching TV, concentrating on the commercials. When Nayyar asked what he was doing, he said he figured that the clever Japanese must have worked out the most effective music to reach the maximum number of people in their ads. At the concert the next day, Nayyar spotted melodies from TV ads in Nusrat's improvisations.

After his death, his nephew, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, took over his qawwali group. Although no one could compare to Nusrat, the group remain formidable, and can be seen next month as part of the Barbican Centre's Ramadan Nights, which also features Sufi street singer Sain Zahoor, a more classical Arabic Sufi group, the al-Kindi Ensemble with Sheikh Habboush, and whirling dervishes from Syria. The founder of al-Kindi, Jalaluddin Weiss, is a Frenchman whose fascination with Sufi music has led him to become a leading exponent of the oriental zither (qanun).

The Barbican season coincides with a fascinating Channel 4 documentary. Sufi Soul is presented by writer William Dalrymple and features extraordinary scenes from Pakistan, such as a festival at the shrine of a Sufi saint (Shah Abdul Latif), which evokes a subcontinental Las Vegas.

More impressive still, perhaps, is the transcendental voice of Abida Parveen. She claims that, on a good night, she reaches 'a high level of ecstasy - very close to God'. I've seen people weeping in the aisles at her concerts - and when she played in New York's Central Park scores of people fainted.

Tempting though it is to dismiss Parveen's claims that she can see Sufi saints among the audience, Sufism has a tradition of female mystics, notably the eighth century's Rabia al-Basri, who ran through the streets of Basra in Iraq with a blazing torch in one hand and a container of water in the other. Asked what she was doing, she is reported to have said: 'The water is to extinguish the fires of hell, the torch to set fire to paradise - so no one worships God for fear of hell or greed for Paradise.'

As for the al-Kindi Ensemble, I saw them at the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music. Set up in response to 1991's Gulf war, the festival is a courageous and inspiring attempt to bring together differing spiritual traditions. Here you can see everything from gospel to Jewish music, from Indian classical to all kinds of Sufi sounds. It is the brainchild of Sufi scholar Faouzi Skali, who wanted to counter 'the stereotypical view Muslims have of the West and vice versa', and to celebrate the fact that 'the world is not uniform; there's a richness of spiritual traditions it's important to know and preserve. Or we will have a world without soul and that would be terrible.'

It's the kind of sentiment echoed by most students of Sufism, such as Coleman Barks, whose translations of Rumi propelled the 13th century mystic into, bizarrely, becoming the bestselling poet in America in the Nineties (Madonna was a fan). Rumi, insists Barks, 'had followers of different faiths in his lifetime. I see him as someone who kicked free of doctrinal confinement'.

From the beginning, Sufi has been a pluralistic faith. The early ascetics were influenced by the Byzantine Christian desert mystics and even now it has elements of animism and paganism. Once, a businessman sitting next to me on a plane to Tangiers told me his wife's mother had the ability, after going into a music-induced trance, to drink boiling water, and to spit it out again a few seconds later ice cold. His current problem was that his daughter had been put under a spell by a frog. Frogs, he explained, as if discussing VAT, are prone to being possessed by 'devils'. The difficulty was you never knew if it was a good or a bad devil. He probably was translating the word djiin which, through fairy tales of Arabic origin, we know as 'genie' (they are mentioned in the Koran, so are not automatically heretical). Not only frogs, he told me, but cats and dogs must be treated with due respect as they may be djiin in disguise.

A minority of Sufi sects go in for extreme practices while under trance, including lacerating themselves with knives, and eating live scorpions and snakes. Some of these rituals have now been outlawed. The music of the Aissawa sect is fabulously rhythmic, with long horns 'to wake the faithful', literally and figuratively. René Brunel, who wrote about the Aissawa in the 1920s, described his experience of 'the furious tempest of drums and oboes', saying the spectators were 'in the grip of the terrifying staccato music seized by this contagious madness and ecstatic frenzy which none can resist'. The best exponents of this music, like Said Guissi, produce some of the most exciting music in the world.

Sufis have occasionally dispensed with the traditional observances of Islam, such as the haj to Mecca, although most have observed the customary rules. In any case, it is not surprising that Sufis and dervishes have had a tough time in many Islamic countries. When I was in Pakistan, qawwali singer Qari Saaed Chisti was shot, apparently for singing a song about how there are many ways up the mountain to God. There is only one - according to the puritan Islamicists. Strict fundamentalists oppose music in any form as a sensual distraction - the Taliban, of course, banned music in Afghanistan. William Dalrymple puts it in stark terms: 'The real clash of civilisations is not between the West and Islam, it's a clash within Islam between the Sufis, who believe in tolerance, and the intolerance of the fundamentalists.'

Certainly, that's something I've seen in my travels across the Muslim world - from India and Pakistan, to Yemen, Morocco, Senegal, Central Asia and Indonesia. After seeing Abida Parveen in Morocco, I was so impressed I felt impelled to seek her out in her homeland of Pakistan. I flew in on 9 September 2001, spent a couple of days with Abida and then went to a hotel, only to see the Twin Towers collapsing on TV. It wasn't the most sensible time to be in Islamabad. But Parveen and the other Sufi musicians were deeply troubled and prayed for peace.

While travelling in Yemen in search of Sufi music, I was told (by the tourism minister) that I was the only tourist and I should have armed protection. At my hotel, owned by the bin Laden family, Hamas held a press conference celebrating suicide bombers. My guard told me if he hadn't got to like me he would have killed me - this would have guaranteed his passage to Paradise. 'If I go to Paradise I will have an eternity of women, drink, drugs - anything I like,' he confided. My Wahabi guide, Sayeed, tried to tell me that hardly anyone followed Sufism any more. The landscape was littered with Sufi shrines, many now destroyed. But at the town of Seyun, I saw a library full of Sufi poetry and met a music group led by Shukkri Hassan Baraji. Listening to their mix of East African drumming and Swahili and Arabic lyrics, I felt, at least for one night, divisions between cultures melting away.

Back in Istanbul, a city half in Europe and half in Asia, a pivotal point between East and West, an Islamic country with a secular state, I met a Sufi pharmacist, whose library of books was above his shop. He believed that only by going to the core of the truth that we have in common, rather than trusting in the divisive man-made institutions of religion, can there be hope for the future. In Turkey too, Sufism is frowned upon - although in the city of Konya, there are celebrations on the anniversary of Rumi's death every year. This is a state-sanctioned occasion, and it is a stately spectacle with many whirlers and a semi-classical orchestra staged in a basketball stadium in front of coachloads of Japanese tourists. There was none of the passion I'd seen among the Istanbul dervishes.

The pharmacist said Sufis 'tap into the river from which all streams flow' and the West's increasing interest in Sufi music and poetry could be a source of a new understanding between East and West. Walking in the night air along the Bosphorus where the city light scintillated on the water, I envied the dervishes their passion, their longing and their faith. On my way back to my hotel I walked past the devastated British Council, recently bombed by Islamic extremists, and I hoped he was right.

One, two, sufi...
204: The number of countries in which Sufism is practised

1.3: The number, in billions, of Muslims worldwide

20: The percentage of Muslims who class themselves as Sufis

10: The number of Sufi adherents, in millions, in Turkey

10: Number of Sufi adherents, in thousands, in Germany

195: Number of practising Sufis in New Zealand

125: Number of albums recorded by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

Ramadam Nights, featuring the al-Kindi Ensemble, is at the Barbican, London EC1 from 4 November. Sufi Soul is on C4 on 6 November at 11.30pm
Estimado Srajan,

My name is Fernando Olmos and I am a local gitano born from the Olmos flamenco family that originated in Madrid, back in the 1800s and migrated to Chile in the 1940s.I am actually Chilean born myself.

We play flamenco music here in Australia, with strong emphasis on music from your region and the rest of Camarque. We are called Los Chanelas. Please check our website and a sample of our renditions. If you ever require to tour overseas, like Australia, please keep in touch with me. I have many contacts in the local music industry and I am more than willing to help your group Kaloome, as I am a big fan of Tekameli.

Adios...
Fernando Olmos
Hi Srajan,

Several months ago I wrote you asking for help selecting some components- in this case the Patek amp and the MiniMax linestage. I followed your advice and ordered the basic Patek but with upgraded caps from Peter and a modded MiniMax from Bill along with a few tubes to play with and I am in "sonic heaven!" In my head I know there is better stuff out there but in my heart, I don't care - it just sounds right to me. And that's a good place to be.

Thanks again for you help and knowledge,

Chip
Srajan,

Now you've done it. For the past 30 or so years, I've been battling an intermittent case of audiophilia neurosa. For the past several it has been in remission and I have been living a quiet life. That is until my friend, Rick Brown told me about the ZuCable Definitions and referred me to your site.

Now I'm advertising my system for sale and pouring over replacement possibilities in print. If I can engineer the purchase of a pair of Defs, I would consider a tube amp for the first time in about 10 years. My last glass venture was an early pair of Ralph Karsten's OTLs which became, due to heat, quirkiness and inconvenience, an experience that sent me retreating to SS.

Now I see your review of the Yamamoto 08S and my curiosity is positively frothing. Is it a simple set and forget? What does care and feeding entail? Can I use it all day to play the radio? Or is it a rich man's toy like a Ferrari to be taken for a spin now and again and polished lovingly in between?

My setup is a 2-channel home theatre. In other words, a big screen sits dead center. This requires at least 4 inputs and remote control. I presently have a Rowland Concerto preamp with phono and it is very nice. I also have Rowland 201 monos and Goldmund Dialogue speakers. While the speakers are quite exceptional, intuition is nagging me that the Defs would be an enormous upgrade.

Would I be wise to procure a Modwright 9.0 SE, the Yamamoto and the Defs? If I do this, what is a worthy but very inexpensive phono section? I have a Well-Tempered Reference Table with all the Marigo mods and a ZYX R-1000 Airy cartridge.

I hope you can find time to answer my questions. And I hope I can find time to read every word you publish from now on. It is very refreshing to read your observations and comments. The established audio press lost its credibility with me long ago.

Sincerely,
Tom Carroll

I'm contagious. Hurray! I feel like a vampire expanding the brood with a few nice hickies. Here in my digs, the Yamamoto plays for 12 hours a day non-stop (or is powered up when it's not). This is no bullshit HighEnd amp that needs to be treated with kid's gloves. The only thing small about it is the power rating. Otherwise, it's a tank, the heritage of superior parts and build quality. Since you need remote, the ModWright is a superb mate but I would ask Dan to knock down the gain by 10dB (he and I've talked about this for high-eff contexts and he can easily do it without sacrificing bandwidth) to guarantee the best low-noise performance from 101dB speakers which require a low-gain context with tubes. On the vinyl front, I'm an unwashed heathen and ignoramus. There Stephaen and Jeff and Steve and John would be your resident mentors and advisors. I have nothing against vinyl at all but my music doesn't exist on that format so I've focused on digital exclusively.

Srajan

Dear Mr. J.D.

It's been long time since I sent you the last message because my job is a little unusual. I am a seaman, actually the chief officer on a car carrier. Usually I go missing from home for about six months but I make copies of many columns and reviews from 6moons on CD/ROM and after that, print them when Im aboard the vessel. Most of them -- especially yours and Srajan's reviews -- I not only read but learn from. That's true because in my small country Bulgaria, I'm the only person to have Avantgarde speakers (for example, the median salary here is about $200/month, mine is $3,900 but only when I am aboard the ship 6-7 months out of the year).

That's why I need somebody's help to create my audio sistem. At the moment, my Audio Aero Capitole CD player is a good one and I have to buy an amplifier now. Following your advice, that will be TEAD Linear A (fantastic reveiw. Bravo) but for the moment, I have to save up my money. For speaker cable, I use Auditorium 23 which, according to you, is a good match to (I've already ordered it). I made a telephon call to Mr. Keith Aschenbrenner and next week, my wife and I and will visit him in Frankfurt. Because of your great review, I am very curious to meet him ins person.

Mr. J.D, I have thousands questions for you but for now I want to know your adjustment of the subwoofers. I know that depends on the room but it's only as an example. Thanks in advance.

Vasko Nikolov

Dear Vasko,

Thank you for the kind words - appreciated! The Auditorium 23 cables have found a lot of fans here at 6moons with Paul Candy, Michael Lavorgna and me, all including them among our Year's Best awards. I set the subs of my Duos at 140Hz (12 o'clock) for frequency and 10 o'clock for the bass setting and 20Hz for the low frequency cutoff. I have found that the best sub settings can vary depending on the room but in my current room, those setting work the best. The TEAD Linear A amp is remarkable and I've really been enjoying it with the TEAD Vibe preamplifier with Pulse power supply (and the Groove + when spinning vinyl). Let me know how your visit with Keith goes and thanks for reading 6moons!

Kind regards,
Jeff
Hi Jim,

I just read your bio and just know I will get a kick out of your writing!

Thanks!
Donald Nunez
Dear Srajan,

I enjoyed the article about John Kalinowski. He clearly loves what he's doing, and his enthusiasm is apparently contagious. Good for him!

I've also followed his progression with speakers and his many posts on Audio Asylum. He always comes across as a straight shooter. Some screen names, when you see them, you want to read their posts, and some, when you see them, well, you don't... For me, a post by Kloss is usually worthwhile.

Two minor points worth mentioning, since he does mention DUOs:
(1) Hundreds of visitors have come through here, a handful perhaps expecting to hear bass vs. DUO mid-horn discontinuity, because someone like John said it was so. They failed. In fact, the most recent visitors (high-end industry folks not easily impressed) made a point of mentioning how surprised they were to be unable to pinpoint the transition at all. Oh, and they said it was the best sound they ever heard, agreeing with about 2/3 of all visitors. Wish it were 100% but there you have it...

Of course that's not rocket science nor is it magic. It's just plain old-fashioned understanding of set-up and voicing. In John's defense, I'm sure he did hear a discontinuity. Whenever I have heard such statements, and I subsequently heard the system, I agreed with the opinion. Then it usually took me about twenty minutes to correct it.

(2) The other point of interest - and where well-meaning people who diligently pursue their view of musical truth may differ - has to do with the severe beaming of the drivers/horns that John sometimes uses, as well as the impossibility of avoiding horrible comb-filter effects from identical multiple widely spaced mid-to-treble drivers in the same channel. Sensitive listeners have reported this same effect in MTM D'Appolito arrays as well.

Such an array always suffers because the results are grossly obvious as an unacceptable coloration produced from the slightest movement of the listener's head (unless the listener does not move side to side or up and down much more than 1 inch). Unfortunately, it is also depressingly measurable. Simply move a mic 3 inches or more and watch the frequency response show wild aberrations from cancellation effects/comb filtering.

And those wild shifts at various frequencies play havoc with the sound. Kind of like having your own private harmonic distortion generator... It's a case where more (fairly wide range horns per channel) is most certainly not better, but rather a typical one where some well meaning early DIYers may pass through in their evolution as designers.

Having said that, perhaps John would listen to my DUOs and pronounce them below his standards, and I could hear his multiple wide range horn array and I would say the same thing.

However, if we're each making a positive difference in people's lives with our efforts, that's about all we can ask.

I'm looking forward to more of John's work, which is clearly evolving into something to be taken very seriously by music lovers.

Best regards,
Jim Smith
Avantgarde-USA
www.avantgarde-usa.com
770 777 2095
Hello Mr. Srajan!

I am Jeffrey La Fond, owner of Advanced HiFi in Trinidad, and would like to let you know that you write the best reviews. I have the Opera Droplet CD-5, and it is word for word what you said about it. It is the best value in CD players today. I cannot name other players but I own players at three times its cost that cannot come close to it in sound and looks.

Let me say this so you keep up the good work. It's all about the sound, not whether it is made in China.

All the very best,
Jeff
Hi Jeff,

I always look forward to your reviews on 6moons and specially enjoy your 47Labs reviews (all of them). Hope you do some more on this great company. While reading the Shigaraki phono review, I espied on one of the photos that you've switched your Atlantis rack to a very attractive enclosed wood cabinet with glass doors. And I was like, "Wow, that's exactly one I'm looking for!" :-) You see, we recently remodeled our home, and my wife would have none of my Target and Ikea racks anymore :-). Could you kindly tell me where you got that rack from (website, etc.) and how much it cost?

Thank you in advance, and how about trying that Fi 421A on your Duos for a another view?

Regards,
Ray

Hi Ray,

Thanks for your nice note and kind words – appreciated. I'm glad you like the HiFi cabinet; it's hand-made here in Washington State where I live, by Sheila McKinnon's McKinnon Furniture. I also gave it special mention in my Best of 2005 coverage .You can visit the McKinnon website and check out all their creations. If you look under media cabinets, you'll find all kinds of great stuff. I found a young lady named Lara to be particularly helpful: Lara Petitclerc Stokes [email protected] I told Lara that I wanted something classy to match my HiFi cabinet to store LPs in. Lara told me they could make a special bookcase with tip-out shelves that would do the trick based on their Library bookcases. So I have a McKinnon shopping list planned for the future - great people!

It turns out that 47Labs is going to have me do a survey review of the entire line of Miyabi cartridges so there's more coming in the future. I can't wait!

Kind regards,
Jeff
Hi Michael,

I enjoy your reviews, always balanced and well-written. A nice touch, it would seem. I noticed your mention of the Minute Amp and had noticed the little beast some time ago. I love the sound of EL84 tubes. Wondering what your thoughts are on it thus far. The shipping charge jacks the cost up into Decware EL84 SE territory.

Also wondering how the Omegas are coming along. I have the dubious distinction of pointing Vinnie to the B200 and then on to Louis. I really love that driver and designed a very fine open baffle/dipole system around it which has enjoyed some real success with the five people who had me build some this summer. Hope you enjoy the A8, haven't heard them in aperiodic loads tho.

Regards,
Dan Mason aka DarkStar on AudioCircle
Hi Jeff,

I have been following your reviews here for quite some time and sense that you tend to be more open-minded when it comes to all audio-related issues such as your choice of the Almarro tube amp and the Omega loudspeakers and the like. I wonder if you could see a remote possibility to assist those of us who are interested in finding better means of using proper isolation devices to fine-tune our systems. I came to this conclusion after reading about it in HiFi+ which along with your e-journal and that of the newer Audio Tone I consider the very best sources out there for those of us who seek more diversity than what appears to be the norm as far as Stereophile or The Abso!ute Sound type magazines of today are concerned.

I've spent some time years ago in Osaka/Japan being stationed there for nine years and coming to meet quite a few audiophiles there who made me realize the overall importance of isolation devices and their beneficial effects on one's system. Since the late 90s, I've become very involved in attempting to educate others of like minds about the joys that can be brought about with such devices in their systems.

I've also noticed that not many if any of the magazines or e-journals here in the USA even attempt to review said devices from the likes of say Taoc isolation devices or Shun Mook Super Diamond Resonators or their cheaper IsoQubes versions or the Yamamoto Sound Craft line of Ebony Setting Bases which can in fact be used either underneath components or speakers; and stand interfacing devices all being offered from Japan or the Finite Elemente line from Germany. Or what about those from Harmonix/Combak and some of the lesser know brands from either Singapore or Hong Kong like IsoClean power Iso devices and their tip toe bases for use under speakers? It would be nice to have someone here in the States address the issue of the overall importance of said devices as most audiophiles and music lovers appear to not have a clue when I mention any of these devices to them.

This is one of the main reasons that it has become harder to obtain any information from the Shun Mook website as they've found that most audiophiles don't have much interest in what their products have to offer, and have been doing more upscale projects of late like building acoustic panels for recording cmpanies and churches in Asia. I just believe in my heart that most magazines have done a disservice to the consumers of audio components which they often recommend, yet aren't very helpful when it comes to teaching the consumers about proper set-up and means of controlling resonance with each/every component built by man.

There seems to be, in Asian countries particularly, an understanding of wood as a primary material when one choses to make the sound of one's system more natural. Yet I've noticed that since about 1995 or so, many Americans are coming to understand the joys of what effects Solid Rock Maple platforms can have on their systems' overall enhancement of sound. Rather late than never, I say.

I only ask this because I feel that this issue definitely needs to be addressed and I feel that you guys more than most have the greatest impact on your readers, more than you may realize. Just food for thought, how about it? We all need to be educated about such devices as without some form of these in one's system, how else to understand what those systems are truly capable of doing/sounding? With that being said, I wish you and yours the very best for the upcoming Holiday Season and continue on your path of truth and above all, a greater sense of enjoying what musicality it is all about to begin with - a sense of relaxation and an even greater sense of peace.

Beautiful and very insightful reviews by the way, please continue serving us proud. I for one enjoy your vision of things which appear outside of the box per SE. I know, I know - I just tend to love those with an adventurous spirit and open minds. Difference is good in my book.

Regards,
Oscar L. Johnson
A quick question that you can perhaps answer in the full review - will a regular Sony remote provide some of the missing functions such as direct track access and cycling of the display for time remaining etc on the Canary Audio CD-100?

Thanks
Doug Farrow
Hi Jeff,

I have a curious question to you. Is there a good reason why the 2024 chip has to be used in the Son of T amp by Sonic impact? The Tripath company has many chips which could build an amp with much higher output that the 2024. A company in Italy, www.autocostruire.com produces a series of product using the 2020 chip that may interest you.

Regards,
Wey Lee

Hello Jeff,

Good call on the McKinnon furniture in your year's end recos. It's gorgeous and well built. It's not cheap but I've got my eye on a fanstastic bookcase.

Steve
Hi Srajan:

I'm now three days (24x7) into playing the Droplet CDP and it's incredible sounding! And it's better looking in person than in photos. I'll keep my BAT player for those CDs that are recorded "too hot" (at least to my ears), but it probably won't get much use.

Thanks again for the review. It's exactly as you described, except that my CD well doesn't get hot, even after non-stop use. That's a good thing. I may be done upgrading (yeah, right) for a good long while.

Regards,
Tom Sumida
Thanks for that hard-drive article and your approach. I appreciated the distinction that you made between the hard drive as a storage area for digital music files and the hard drive as a playback device. In that it is mostly RAM memory that is the playback device as the "file" is loaded into RAM memory from the hard drive -- so really it is the computer that is the playback device --, the processor, main board, software program/RAM. (Unless of course there is not enough RAM memory available, so that the computer needs to go acquire virtual memory from the free space on the hard drive: but we shouldn't confuse this issue).

I also liked how you pointed out that the computer can be located in another room, and/or a file server can deliver the information via a wireless or wired network to a smaller computer that has the playback/RAM memory program loaded on it; ie, what I'm doing.

IMO, the USB-to-digital converter box/cable (Off Ramp) seems to offer up a higher value than the "Brick", "Sqeezebox" or the Cambridge Audio units as the "Off Ramp" allows you to select not only the DAC or CDP or Universal CDP with digital input that appeals to you but allows you greater flexibility with what kind of computer/RAM memory/HD delivery system that you'd like to use.

Thanks again for your open discourse, clarifications, and exploration of these new devices and techniques.

Cheers,
Jim Gordon
Hi Srajan,

I just came across this today. It seems that they have software on the PC that allows them to emulate tube equipment along with other effects. I'm quite skeptical of such claims. I think it looks pretty interesting, albeit hopelessly complex: http://izotope.com/. A review of it is here:

Also, your article has been posted up on a computer enthusiast's forum for discussion. It is quite interesting to see the computer enthusiast view regarding the emergence of computers and hard drives in HiFi:
http://episteme.arstechnica.com/groupee/forums/a/tpc/f/67909965/m/774000126731

Regards,
Jason
Hi Srajan

I recently had to give a talk to fellows at my club about vintage audio. I did not want to take my own setup apart and came up with this idea. I set it up with an all tube gear system such as my Leak Stereo 20, my Troughline 11 tube tuner and lots of other vintage items from the 50s.The hussy with the satisfied smirk in the pic? That's HMV Judith Sabine von Luc. The half-chewed chopbone under the bench has been discreetly kicked out of view.

The 301 reposed in my workshop rafters for at least 10 years and was seriously in bad shape. The restoration took 4 days from start to finish, including the 4 aluminium legs and the 'mini' armboard, as well as the respray in Antique Ivory. The job involved a complete strip down, including the metal plates around the controls. Everything was checked for exact tolerances and the Garrard was purposely left 'naked' so that the guys at my club could see how everything works.

Cheers & best wishes from Cape Town
Andre Hanekom
Judging from the materials pricing quoted in the Amorphous Core Transformers Industry Feature, it may appear that those of us who sell transformers that are assembled with amorphous core materials are robber barons - but a visit to Lundahl's or our facilities will convince otherwise. I don't dispute the materials pricing comments but they don't tell the whole story. The amorphous materials used by Lundahl are substantially more expensive than the "normal" silicon iron materials they use. They use the materials they do because they have properties that are sonically beneficial, not because they are expensive, cheap or "sexy". Furthermore, neither Lundahl nor I will claim that the amorphous core materials used are "wonder materials" that better normal crystalline materials in all properties. From my music listening point of view, the sonic benefits compared to traditional silicon iron are nothing short of major, and that is enough!

Btw, thanks for the timely, informative articles that explore off-the-beaten-path equipment and technology. That and your excellent pictures make your site the leading audio webzine, in my opinion.

Kevin Carter
K&K Audio
Dear Srajan,

I read your article [on hard drives - Ed.] with great interest. I am myself a college student in Southern California, and these developments in audio can be seen quite clearly in the way that music is listened to these days. It is a great article and has prompted much thought.

Over the campus network, students share tunes over iTunes, and they burn CDs not for backup purposes but to produce "party mixes" and "drunk party mixes" among other things. The development in digital audio certainly has not gone unnoticed on college campuses. My CD player is something of an anachronism over here, I suspect people think that it's an antique. It has given them unparalleled flexibility in listening and composing mixes. Indeed, it is not unheard of for students to have several days of music sitting on their hard drives, albeit in 128 kbps MP3 or AAC format. Most music these days is heavily biased toward mid-tones, and most pieces don't lose too much in the translation, at least, not to most people.

I think that it is unfortunate that this development comes at the expense of high resolution and CD audio, most people these days prefer to download the compressed MP3 rather than listening to a good recording. There are very few people who bother with the difference between the compressed tracks and the rather less portable versions. I fear for the day when all record companies distribute their material using lossy compression. There is little incentive these days for higher quality playback with the widespread adoption of compressed audio. As flawed as rRdbook is, lossy compressed audio is far far worse.

In the coming months, I expect to hook up my laptop to the DAC section of my CD7 and the rest of my system, using an optical Toslink connection via a Creative Soundblaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook sound card. I expect that the easy availablity and great variety of music will be a boon to me, even though I would need to suffer somewhat from the quality of 128kbps audio.

Oddly enough, there has only been one time when the CD player has outfoxed the IBM in terms of audio playback. It seems that Sony has been marketing a new form of copy protection called XCP, which prevents all playback on computer-based and DVD drives. Only CD players are able to play back those discs, and I've had the misfortune of buying one of those discs. It plays fine on my CD player but in my computer, it's just a useless disc of plastic. I'm curious, have you encountered similar copyright annoyances with computer-based sources?

I've been largely hesitant in adopting the latest technolgies, unlike most other college students out there simply because the improvements afforded by new technology have seldom been realised. My experience with computers is extensive only because they failed on me ever so often. In fact, I rejoiced at purchasing a CD player because it allowed me to listen to CDs with much more reliability than the computer systems I am used to. I've never had to reboot my Marantz or check it for viruses. I like that kind of simplicity and reliability. I love the idea that when I push play, the thing plays, no questions asked, no software loaded. My experience with PCs has usually left me spending time and money every few months as some component decides to give up the ghost.

Hard Drives come with their own attendent issues. There was a time when IBM produced a popular range of hard drives which were found to fail prematurely due to some design error. IBM has since left the market, but those drives left a very sour taste in the mouths of more than a few computer enthusiasts,and they christened the IBM Deskstar hard drive as the "DeathStar," after its tendancy to fail and die, destroying all the data contained within.

In any case, I think the following software would be of worthy mention in your next article on hard-drive driven audio. I have 2 suggestions, one for backup of critical files and the other for audio compression.

First, there is the all important backup software. Among the best that I've had the pleasure of using has been Norton Ghost, which basically compresses your hard drive contents into a single file, so that you can restore it, with all the data intact when your hard drive or Operating System fails. Though it is not free, it has saved my bacon more than once and I've found it to be an extremely useful tool for backup purposes. You might find it very useful on your own computer, if it runs Windows.

Link: http://www.symantec.com/home_homeoffice/products/backup_recovery/ghost10/index.html

Next, there's Monkeys Audio's APE codec, which can be configured to compress audio losslessly. It's a good way of compressing audio files for storage. APE also works well on Foobar, which is also my favorite software player of all time. It has a decent compression ratio, and the conversion process is quick enough for most things. The best part is that it, like Foobar, is free.

Link: http://www.monkeysaudio.com/

Great job with the article, I hope you guys at 6moons can keep up the good work.

Regards,
Jason
Hello kind reviewer,

I noticed that you've recently transported yourself into the realm of headphone amps and your reviews are top-notch. After seeing reviews of Ray Samuels and SinglePower products, I'd be quite interested to see a review of the Earmax Pro. In a smaller housing and apparently perfectly matched for Senns of many kinds, the Pro goes for around $800. Reviews I've read so far say that it positively glows with sparkling glowingness. I'd love to get your take before settling on a decision.

Thanks,
L.R. Holm
Hi Srajan,

My wife and I have been Zu supporters for 5 years and have been enjoying every minute of it. We are in Easton/ PA & have helped coordinate the Zu shows here, as well as give feedback on some new/custom products. I have published numerous "reviews/opinions" on various websites (HarmonicDiscord, AudioCircle, etc.). We have owned nearly all of their cables and also all of their speakers. We currently have a full 5.1 theater in all Zu speakers. Definitions for the main L & R, custom Druid 2 center, custom Druid MK 4 rear effect speakers that are mounted on the wall (basically the top 1/3 of a Druid) and the original Zu sub that they had a CES a few years back. All cables are Ibis, Varial, Ash, Megular, & Mother & Bok power cords.

We just received, on Friday, our second system for upstairs. We are running the pair of Blue Druids that were at RMAF - but with a twist. Where I wanted to place them, we have air conditioning ducts on the floor and we had a concern about the proper gap height. Adam & Sean sat in my room & recommended a Druid with a factory set gap base plate. This is accomplished by placing a solid base plate under the Druid with 4 small spacers in-between it and the bottom of the Druid cabinet. The look is very clean and the sound is great. This might be a good idea for a MK.V as it would take the proper gap height out of the setup equation, and make it easier for the consumer. We are running this system with a pair of the Flying Mole amps & an iPod. Very simple setup, with big & detailed sound.

Thanks for confirming to the masses what we have known and been preaching all along. Zu has been a great company to deal with & their customer support has been second to none. I have attached the links to my old posts below.

Thanks Again
Todd & Amy S.

Druid Mark 1 Repost from HarmonicDiscord
http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=2211&highlight=

Druid Mark 2
http://www.audiocircle.com/circles/viewtopic.php?t=2367&highlight=
Hello Michael,

As a fellow SVA deserter and son-of-a-solder-slinger (my apologies if you're reading this aloud and have a lisp), I enjoyed reading your bio. I too have scoured the bookstores on 16th, have abandoned an ascetic artist's life to live off the fat of the corporate land (most recently as a technical writer on sustainability and corporate responsibility), and agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of the Amazon/Audiogon viewing ratio madness. I even paralleled your interest in the Abbys until Srajan's review of the Druids brought me around to the Zu way of living (must admit - I have not regretted it).

When I read about your interest in guitars, I thought of my old drawing teacher from my days in Portland/OR. He designs funky guitars and amps that you might find interesting. Check out: http://www.artguitars.com/artist.htm

He's a really interesting guy - former architect-turned-fine artist/guitar maker and the best art teacher I've ever had. If you're ever around Portland, stop in his studio.

Anyway, I enjoy your reviews and look forward to reading more in the future. Glad to know there are others out there who "get it".

Thanks,
Matthew DeMaio
Dear Mr. Ebaen,

I really enjoy your 6moons! After reading the recent Yamamoto review, I can't help but think you are missing a very important product from a well-established US based company, specifically the single-ended OTL amplifier by Transcendent Sound. To my knowledge, this is only one of 2 commercial products in existence that are based on this specific design (..the other is S.A.P of Italy). In fact, the design itself is comparatively rare even among DIYers because it requires many tubes/sections in parallel and/or negative feedback and/or "Inverted Mode" operation (as coined by Steve Bench) to achieve even low output at a moderately low output impedence.

As to my affiliation with Trancendent - none. In fact, I've never even heard a single product from them. My compulsion to write you was simply to inform you of another product that might be very interesting (in both quality and value, despite having total operation in the U.S.).

Sincerely,
ScottG
Right on, a series on HDD playback (with an "LP never left us" side?)! It's time - and your new series will push the whole fidelity-based audio playback closer to the industry that will grow it... Thanks, Srajan!

Good to see so many quotes and references, like Warwick's. Vinyl and HDDs are certainly where it is at, the whole DJ and HipHop culture have known this for a decade but it totally skipped the HiFi world, nothing we were doing attracted them. The current revolution in digital -- computer-based that is -- has everything to do with pop culture but HiFi moved way too slow, not to mention we don't comb our hair and smell like old socks. It is the computer, pro and new music scens that have put fidelity back as a desirable attribute in how we enjoy music, how we party, dance and relate to one another.

Looking forward to the series.

Sean
Dear Srajan:

I just read Terry Cain's comment on the PiTracer and VRS comparison in your industry feature and would like to add the context of the situation. First Terry played some cello piece stored on the VRS. Though we didn't know what kind of source it was taken from, both Junji and I weren't impressed by that playback. Next, Terry ripped the Misty River CD into VRS and we did a comparison between the stored file played through VRS and the original CD played through PiTracer. The performances between the two were very close and we were rather impressed. However, it was the only comparison we did, probably 2 minutes on each. I don't think that constitutes a fair comparison between the two front end.

I don't remember hearing Junji's comment, "one day I knew this would happen", but having conversed many times with him afterwards about hard drive as a digital front end, I believe he meant the fact that hard drive will eventually be used as a front end, not about the sound quality of it.

Best regards,
Yoshi/Sakura Systems
Dear Marja & Henk,

Please accept my compliments on your Debarre/Lagrene music review,especially the part about the sound quality. I hope that your review was read carefully and humbly by Lagrene's producers and engineers, especially the CoolEdit statistics sheet. I encourage you to apply this method often. Sound techs all over the world need to learn that there is something to know about besides Rock & Roll and recording amplified canoe paddles.

Spencer Doidge

Just a note to say how much I enjoyed your Gallo Ref III review. I'll see if I can find somewhere to audition them next week.

Thanks
Bryan Ansell
Hi Jeff,

I have just aquired a Garrard 301 and I'm busy surfing the net to find out as much about it as I can. I came across 6moons.com, what a fantastic website, full of useful info and enthusiasm.Can I take you up on your kind offer of an e-mailed copy of your 301 manual? It may save me a lot more head scratching.

Many thanks
Alan Meldrum
Hello Jeff ,

I enjoy your writings and economical choices to save money . I see you have an Audio Logic DAC. I have the new MXL-24. Have you heard this one ? With a good power cord -- I bought a Stealth Cloud 9 for digital -- the superb Siemens CC or Telefunken 88cc make this converter a star . I know of no one to ever do a review of Jerry Osment's works ,which is a shame considering he has been in the field since digital started and has made statement DACs for Jadi, VAC. VTLand others as I have been told. Since you have an Audio Logic DAC, why not see about a review on his best? Throw in the good valves and see whether this converter isn't that far off the Zanden for 1/3rd the price. Please get back to me when you get a moment and keep up the good work.

Paul

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the note and kind words – appreciated! I have heard the MXL-24 but not in my personal system – it’s a nice DAC. I had actually been thinking the same thing about a review somewhat in the style of the Fi mono review or Auditorium 23 review where I chronicle Jerry’s history and contribution to audio and do a review but I’ve been so booked up (through February – March) that I haven’t followed up on it yet. If you talk to Jerry before I do, tell him I’d love to do a historical bio of him and a review of his new DAC sometime in the future. The 2400 is still my favorite digital front end after hearing scads of DACs – it does realistic timbre better than anything I’ve ever heard. I should probably do a little tube rolling and see what happens. Thanks for reading 6moons!

Kind regards,
Jeff

Hello Srajan,

Just sending a quick note to thank you for your detailed reviews, which have led me to many hours of listening pleasure with both my SP3 amp and Druid Mark IVs. As I did not have the opportunity to audition either piece before buying them, your reviews were invaluable. Thank you also for turning me on to Renaud Garcia-Fons; I've given several of his CDs as gifts, so the good musical karma continues....

A question: have you heard of McAlister audio in Ontario? Their website is http://www.mcalisteraudio.com. I'm about to send Peter (the proprietor) my old ST-70 amp for repairs, but I also see that he makes his own SET amps at reasonable prices and seems to have his heart and mind in the right place. To quote from his site:

"This experience has made my commitment to design and my desire to build high quality audio at a reasonable price critical in my product line. It has also furthered my philosophy that the two most important factors in high end audio are circuit design and integrity."

I haven't heard his equipment, nor have I been able to find any reviews besides the ones on his own site, but he's a nice, smart man passionate about what he does, so I'd imagine his product wouldn't disappoint. I've passed the link from his site onto the folks at Zu Cable (and vice versa, as Peter is apparently often asked for speaker recommendations).

Just thought this might be something you'd want to check out.

Again, many thanks.
Matthew
Dear Sir,

Congratulations on a very informative, interesting and well written website. I have long been tired of magazines touting products based on their own obvious agendas. Please pardon my being so forward, but upon reading your latest Realizing column, I realized (!) myself that there is no mention of autoformer-based preamps. I recently bought a Slagle autoformer-based volume control and to be honest, I would be reticent if I didn't suggest you listen to one before you spend megabucks on a transformer-based passive.

For clarification purposes only, let me state that my system consists of Ocellia Tila loudspeakers, a custom-made amp built for me by Alex Dondysh of 3D audio with silver wiring, Jensen transformers specifically for my 16ohm Tilias, Blackgate caps, RCA5U4G rectifiers, Sophia mesh plate 300Bs, separate power supply, low noise/low gain circuitry and top of the line connectors, a Metronome C1A DAC (18-bit) driven by a Sony DVP S7000 or a JVC XLZ1050 used as transports (haven't decided which I prefer).Cabling is still a work in progress, although I am leaning towards getting the Zu cables both as interconnects and power cords. I enjoy many forms of music, and late at night I lean towards jazz vocalists.

I hope this info puts my comment into some context. The previously mentioned volume control has qualities you may find interesting.

Regards,
Ray Pamias

Srajan,

Too bad about the Brick review. I appreciated the technical look at the Brick and was really looking forward to hearing your comps to more traditional digital delivery. PC-based music has revolutionized my listening habits and I don't think I could ever go back. Did you at least get a chance to listen to it? If so, what did you think? I thought for sure you would buy one for yourself. Anyway, I was interested in your audio opinion on the Brick if you ever got a chance to critically listen to it. Did it keep up with your cost no object system?

Thanks, and for what it is worth I thought it was a very detailed historical look at the development of USB DAC technology. I can not see why Gordon would object to an attempt to codify a new and "emerging" technology.

Todd Hawthorne


As is my custom, I did not listen to the Brick prior to penning the intro with its specs, historical tidbits and tech stuff. I like to keep the "conceptual" and listening phases of a review separate. If the intro information gives rise to certain predictions or assumptions, I want to set myself and the reader up, then use the listening portion to either confirm those suspicions, modify them or blow 'em straight out of the water. Not only is that more fun, it also serves as a reminder that there's no substitute for listening no matter what specs and claims seem to predict. I was about to start listening to the Brick when it became apparent that its designer had a real issue with my approach. Oh well. Time to move on...

Srajan

BTW, I am currently evaluating a pair of Zu Cable Varial. Your assessment is spot on; these are truly wonderful cables. They put many cables at much higher price points to shame. It is too early for absolutes but at this time anyway it appears to me the product is severely underpriced which is also quite refreshing from a consumer standpoint. I'll eventually try the speaker cables based on what I hear.

Bill Feil

Dear Mr. Day,

I have been following your Garrard story at 6moons with keen interest. Thanks for such nice write-ups of your experiences with the 301. I have been using the Garrard 301 for some time and am going to try Terry Cain's plinth. One thing I was curious about when I read your last article is the effect of the wood choice on sonics. I remembered that Mr. Cain is building a Cherry plinth for one of your friends and is experimenting the thickness of the top plate. I was wondering if you could share your comparisons.

Thanks in advance
David
Hi David

I was looking in the archives this morning and found your review on the Totem Arrows. I don't normally respond to reviews at all but this time you just hit on some notes that really agree with my own of some of the components you mentioned here.

First the Totem Arrows. They were on the top of my list of speakers to buy for a while because of all the reasons you mentioned in your review. They absolutely disappear and are tonally great from the mid bass up. In the end, they simply did't go loud enough for some types of music, i.e. Bob Marley when you really want to rock down the house.

Next the Model 1 Sgs. These I thought were fantastic speakers with much greater bass than the arrows, but - when I had them at home in my system, I just could not take the tweeter for more than an hour at a time.. just too hot.. At the time, I was using a Simaudio i5080 with an old CDP hooked up to a Link Dac III. My room is a harsh room to start with, wooden floors, lots of windows with no real curtains.etc.

Last but not least, the Neat Mystique! You mentioned PRaT. Yes they have that in spades..I dont know which ones you had (the ones with the binding posts up in the middle of the cabinet and the crossover up close to the speaker) or the newer ones like I have now with the repositioned crossover and the binding posts down low on the cabinet.

I had both types and the second ones which I still have and love are far superior to the first ones. Much much nicer highs, better soundstage and do they go low when you need to. Also they can rock the house which I don't do very often at all. My old Sansui tu-517 tuner on classical music is just wonderful through these. The rest of my system is: Creek 5350R, Creek CD43 mk 2 with Eichman power cords, Blue Circle power pillow, VDH 102mk 3 to the tuner and Kimber Heros to the CDP.

I've tried many ICs but nothing can beat the tonal acurracy of the Heros yet even though they give up some soundstaging. Anyways, keep up the good reviews and thanks for listening.

Regards,
Ken Gooch

Srajan,

I recently purchased a pair of Ed Schilling's Horns as I have been attempting to downsize my audio components without sacrificing too much. I have a full Eastern Electric rig, (amp, CDP & modded preamp) and vintage, heavily modded turntable. I have also been auditioning a digital battery-powered chip amp created by one of Ed's friends. Already, I like the match of the EE equipment with the horns but the battery powered digital amp also has some promise. My other speakers are Galante Rhapsodys which present a bigger sound picture, but I am amazed at the sound that the Horns can deliver.

Since I enjoy nearfield listening in my heavily treated room (Michael Green & Eighth Nerve products), I can easily control soundstage width, height and imaging depth. I have already found that the Horns sound much better sitting atop wooden platforms and suspended over brass cones. We are in agreement that they need to be toed in for better treble performance. My Horns are 4 feet off the front wall and eight feet apart. Rolling lots of tubes in the EE pre-mp also helps dial in the sound I prefer.

If you haven't auditioned the Horns with the EE gear, give it a shot. In my humble opinion, all three EE pieces and Ed's Horns are a best buy for us low-end 'philes. With these products, you get to deal with one of nicest guys in the audio industry, Bill O'Connell. You also get Ed. Ah shucks, I like him too!

Regards,
Terry in Nashville
Srajan,

I am loving your lower budget reviews! Red Wine, Zu, Odyssey, Eastern Electric, Onix and the list goes on. This has opened up a new world for us audiophools on a tight budget.

I know you probably get a ton of this but I have some goodies that have generated a lot of buzz on forums that I (and others, too) would love to see some real reviews on!
  • VMPS 626 or RM30 speakers
  • VH Audio Pulsar interconnects, Flavor power cords and raw wire for speaker cables
  • Reality Cables interconnects and speaker wire
  • Ack! Industries battery powered dack
  • Powervar ABC-1200-11 power line conditioner (sold cheap on audiogon)

Sounds like you all have your plates full with gear, but it's always worth mentioning cool stuff that one may not know about!

Michael Cole

Hi Srajan,

It has been a great pleasure to read your reviews and those by the other reviewers at 6moons. I accidentally found your website by googling for Tube Audio Design's TAD-60 integrated amp and I am just hooked. You'd be pleased to know that based on your and Jeff's reviews, I have ordered the Onix SP3/Ref 1 combo and a Pro-Ject Xpression 1 TT. I am yet to receive them and will surely send in my feedback if it matters.

BTW I was curious after reading one letter where someone was praising your mentioning Hanuman in the Hyperion prereview in a "classy" manner. While looking through the review, I noticed a travel altar of SRF gurus. I was so happy to see it because I am also a devotee of Paramahansa Yogananda who founded SRF.

Anyway, I read some discussion in the letters/feedback section on Stereophile. I agree. I also subscribe to it but find it difficult to put to any practical use. I am a brand new house owner with a 4-yr old daughter. I crave good music and good sound but am on a tight budget. I feel 6moons helps me make the right decisions. I feel if ever I have more disposable income, I would still find good recommendation at your site. In a nutshell, you guys are doing a great job! Why not print it so that we can cherish the great writings by you and your colleagues for years to come?

Thank you.
Anil Salunkhe

Srajan,

I just now read the thread on AA about whether 6moons is like the old Stereophile. Wow, that one took a turn for the worse. Here’s the thing. All publications I think start with folks who have a passion for the hobby. Stereophile unfortunately morphed into the de facto authority on what’s good in High End. The result? Hobbyist paranoia and dealer snobbery. You either own what they pronounce as great or you are looked down upon by retailers and scoffed at by other audiophiles. 6moons, on the other hand, continues to provide thought (and possibly action) provoking articles that do not denigrate philosophy, ideas, designs etc. You also manage to inject a significant amount of fun into the mix. I applaud the fact that the publication, writers and you yourself, do not take yourselves so seriously as to lose sight of the fact that you are hobbyists, (albeit quite serious) like your readers.

I miss Listener magazine because they knew their place on the planet. You do, too. I blame the industry for allowing Stereophile to rule the purchase lives of audiophiles without the confidence to trust their own ears. I think Stereophile provides a six dollar a month entertainment service and 6moons provides a free daily dose of audio hobbyist fun. I still subscribe to Stereophile today for the entertainment, not the advice. I believe there is a huge distinction. I guess what it boils down to is this: Do I trust you and your writers to basically describe what you are hearing? The answer is emphatically “YES”. Do the writers of 6moons “like” a bunch of what they review? Yes! That’s great. It means there are more and more viable products on the market that merit audition. I am not sure why people see this as a weakness in 6moons. This note turned out to be far too lengthy. You guys are great. Thanks for your efforts.

Kind regards,
Chris Keating
Dear Srajan,

I enjoy your site and found the SET articles very helpful. I came to SET amps backwards if you like. I enjoy Living Voice speakers and have been using the Avatars for 3 years. A dealer I respect imports Viva amps and suggested they are a good match for Living Voice. I had heard the Viva Solista 17-watt SET 845 integrated at the UK high- end show in April, driving ART speakers. I wasn't the only person to think that room best in show. Always a trap to select gear this way, I took a chance and bought a cheapo ex dem Solista on the Audiogon site and couldn't be happier, apart from the heat! This is just a hint that you might like to look at Viva amps. WalkerAudio is the US importer, I believe.

Best wishes,
David Wise

Srajan,

Just a quick note about a great cable for little money. You may want to check out the Grover Huffman cables that Steve Hoffman (and many others including myself) rave about. The buzz is at http://www.stevehoffman.tv. I have put these these $150 1m interconnects up against the Kubala Sosna Emotion, Nordost Valhalla, Cerious, Audioquest Cheetah, Verastarr Silver Reference and much prefer this skinny little cable. Serious. The only one that beats it in my system is the Indra.

Just thought you may be interested for your continuing quest....

David Crosby
Dear Srajan,

I was reading the article about the Hyperion monos and was pleasantly surprised about the story of Hanuman. Very nicely written as well considering the delicate nature of the story.

I have been an avid reader of 6moons, a thoroughly enjoyable website, even though it's more on the tubey side.

Cheers
Prashant Pathreeker

Kudos for the retelling of this particular Hanuman myth go to one of our readers who submitted it for our use. Agreed, it's very cannily and classily phrased.

Hello Stephaen and Srajan!

I want you to know that I think your layout and picture artistry is absolutely first-rate - that you really know how to edit. This is some of the best professional work I've ever seen in photo journalism. I understand deadlines and I know how hard you worked, as I have been editor of a few pubs myself at times in my past! I also did a lot of photography in and around Yellowstone for 2 years and someday I must share these with you. I have an old photo of Old Faithful geyser going off into a super-cold Winter day-- when I once worked up there. It looks exactly like a French poodle sitting up on its tail, with front legs folded down, looking straight ahead and begging for a bone! It was a rare moment and I just got lucky. The place was magic to me, and I got 2 years to do it all!

I want to thank you for your frank and honest questioning during our listening session, and I admit I didn't quite understand what was up, but I was enjoying your presence anyhow because I sensed honesty and that you were enjoying music honestly too. Home audio has been a hobby for me for many years and building and running motion-picture theatres was how I made my living for many years. In Montana of old, exhibitors couldn't afford expensive audio systems but many really good equipments had survived from the 50s and 60s. I would gather these things up and put them together into a good-sounding system. At first, I was kinda naive about it and I remember my first project where I replaced a Western Electric Model 91 (300B amp.) with a Dynaco Stereo-70!

Of course I wanted stereo. I would run the grid-bias up on the Dynaco that dropped the output tube plate-current about 40% - and the thing would run for 4 or 5 years on the same tubes. I always made mono systems into stereo and put in nice tape decks for music before the show. I got to using several Altex A7-500-8 units at a time. When I wanted more presense, I simply put in more units. One time, years later, I built a state-of-the-art screen 52' wide. I hated surround sound! Here you were enjoying the movie-- and "clunkety-clunk!" Something falls out of the wall! Which has nothing to do with the picture since it is upfront. Now, you've lost your concentration into the picture and it is spoiled for you.

So I put all the transducers into the screen! That 52-footer contained 7 x A7-500-8 2-way units. It was curvilinear to get equal picture sharpness all over,and this gave the correct speaker-toe-ins also. It was real cool! All the effects (like a plane flying overhead, etc.) went right out from the screen and went where they belonged! No surrounds and no subs and no rear units. I got this by questioning Paramount Pictures. I asked them what was the recording? I asked about the "special effects". They said it was recorded in simple stereo and all the effects were generated in the theatre by the Dolby or other junk box. Take this out of the system, play it back with direct (no corrections) stereo and voila!

Awesome! My budget theatres kicked butt on all the big mega-buck palaces! I always used Schneider (expensive!) lenses for a great picture. I had a lot of fun! I was a great McIntosh customer as I used their amps a lot. And also always used their preamps. This allowed easy control over tape decks etc. and the projector inputs. I liked the auto-former amps because they never blew up the speakers so I didn't have to rip the screen fabric off to fix speakers! Many of these setups are still running today - 30-35 years later. Same old MAC amps & preamps! If they ever need a free testimonial, I'll give them one! Well, bedtime! It's been a real pleasure meeting you and seeing your excellent work. Many thanks for a job well done!

Dennis 'the tube wrangler'